Thursday, June 16, 2011

Volunteer Team Log - Day 3

On Monday, we got an early start. We met the team at 6:00 am and headed down to the juvenile prison in the Menino Deus neighborhood. We got there a bit early and waited for Adriana, the Brazilian Baptist Home Missionary who has been working there for the past several months. Once we got through the front gate, we left everything in the van (hence the fact that I have no pictures from the prison - sorry) and headed in. We had to wait for quite a while once we got in. We finally figured out that instead of being together as a group, we would be split up into 4 separate groups, each going to a separate wing of the facility. We each grabbed some breakfast stuff that Adriana brought and headed out.

I went with Brad, and we went in and laid out a small breakfast for the eight or so "monitors" (guards) who were present. They gathered around and told us that nobody had ever done anything like this for them, and that they frequently get blamed for anything and everything that goes wrong with the inmates. Brad shared a bit of his testimony, and then we got to talking with one of the monitors. He told us that this is where the worst offenders in the state come, especially those who have caused so many problems in other facilities that they could not be controlled. He took us upstairs and showed us the cells, bathroom, etc. We got a chance to witness to him some and to lead him a step closer to a relationship with Christ.

We waited for a while longer, and then, after the inmates came down out of their cells, we were able to go out into the yard with about 15 of them and to share some with them. Brad told his testimony and sang a song, and I was able to share with them a bit about their value in the eyes of Christ. We finished up there, and then went over to one of the other wings and were able to share with them as well. We were all well received and the staff told us to come back whenever we could.

After leaving the prison, we headed to the public market in downtown Porto Alegre. We walked around the market and I was able to show the team a bit about the spiritist religious influence in the heart of the city.

We then headed out to Menino Deus to meet Felipe and Ana, church planters who are in the beginning stages of a new church that we have dreamed about for many years. They asked us to help them develop some relationships they have been working on. We went to eat at a restaurant where the church will begin meeting in a few weeks. After our meal, we gathered the restaurant staff, thanked them, and prayed over them. They thanked us and said that nobody had ever done anything like that before. After we thanked them, three of the employees came up to Felipe and asked him what they could do to get involved with the church! Go God!

After lunch, we split into two groups. One group went to a hair salon run by a member of Felipe's core church planting group. They got haircuts and their nails done, giving them a chance to witness to the workers. They also witnessed to several other workers at businesses on the block. The rest of us walked to a natural foods store. The ladies at the store received us very well and we helped Felipe develop the evangelistic relationship that he has been developing.

After a snack back at the same restaurant, we all headed back to the natural food store. I now know more about lactose, gluten, and sugar free products than I ever cared to know!

That night, we split up into groups and went to pray over people and/or do small group studies. One group went to a nursing home, another went to visit the owner of the hair salon's parents who have been resistant to the gospel, and another went to still another home. During the time with the team, the hairstylist's parents who have been so resistant to participating asked for the next small group meeting to be in their home! At the end of the night, Felipe was so happy that he was practically floating. He said that the group advanced the work of the church plant as much in a single day as they had been able to do in a year (probably an exaggeration, but still good to hear!)

It was an unconventional day of ministry - going into prison for breakfast, eating in a restaurant for an evangelistic purpose, getting nails and hair done, drinking organic tea and nibbling on sugar free treats, sharing in people's homes, etc. However, God worked in great ways, and we were able to mesh with the needs of the local church planter - it was a good day.

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